We've all heard about cloud computing technology before. Many of us have even used it for quite some time and haven't even noticed! We thought that it would be interesting to explore how cloud computing for opticians can be used in new and different ways, especially as a practice management solution for eye care practices.
We asked our friends at VitalHealth, a leader in cloud-based EHR software designed with Mayo Clinic, to give their insight on cloud computing technology.
It's that time to replace your current clinical and optometric practice management software with a more modern solution. There can be any number of reasons for taking that step. Perhaps youd like to benefit from meaningful use reimbursements, and youre looking for certified EHR technology. Or perhaps your eyecare practice management software simply cant keep up with your desire to embrace mobile technologies. Whatever your reason may be, perhaps youre wondering if cloud computing should be one of these reasons?
In this blog post well try to explain what cloud computing is, and why you should seriously consider going that route. Well also try to alleviate some of the concerns you may have, if any. So lets get started.
Cloud computing means running some of your IT infrastructure (applications or data) in a location other than your own physical office. You access this infrastructure remotely via the Internet, but you dont necessarily know exactly where your applications or data are residing physically. Their location is fuzzy, indefinite, non-localized, as if it is inside a cloud.
Most people probably already use some form of cloud computing, even though they may not realize it. For instance, if you access Googles email service via a browser, you are using a cloud email solution. Perhaps you sync your email down to a local device such as your mobile phone. In that case your email application is local, but your email data is in the cloud.
Some of you may already be more advanced cloud users than you realize. Have you ever used Google Docs, or Microsofts Office 365? In that case you are a full-fledged cloud user already! You simply use a browser to run e.g. a word processor or spreadsheet application in the cloud, with no local installations of these applications on your computer required. You dont know where the applications or your data physically reside. Theyre somewhere in the cloud.
The biggest concern typically voiced by cloud skeptics is security. In reality, security of cloud-based applications usually far exceeds that of local infrastructures. Cloud vendors invest heavily in making sure that applications and data are protected from unauthorized access in the form of hackers, as well as physical access to the servers. They have implemented backup and disaster procedures that exceed anything you can afford to implement in a local infrastructure. While the idea of leaving your sensitive data in the hands of an outside vendor may be unsettling, the reality is that these vendors are extremely qualified to address your security concerns.
Typical monthly fees for cloud computing solutions may seem high at face value. But if you actually went through the exercise of spreading out local infrastructure costs over its lifespan, you would be surprised to find that cloud computing for opticians beats a local infrastructure hands-down. Besides that, a monthly subscription fee is much more predictable in terms of cash flow, compared to the typical high upfront costs and spikes in maintenance costs of a local infrastructure.
For most cloud applications, you only need Internet access and wired or wireless devices that run any of the major browsers, like Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer. Your bandwidth requirements will depend on your practice size, as well as the cloud applications you are trying to access. For most scenarios, a connection with about 1 Mbps of bandwidth per user is more than sufficient. Pair that with a small business router of a few hundred dollars to protect your network from external intruders, and you are all set.
The benefits of cloud computing for opticians can be summarized into one short phrase, economies of scale. By sharing an IT infrastructure, all subscribers share in the predictable costs of using a highly secure and reliable environment. Whats not to like? Time to join the migration to the cloud!
Hear Dr. Nafey's Tech Talk on the cloud to learn more.